According to Malay Mail, the government is planning to re-establish the National Service Training Programme (PLKN) which was abolished during the Pakatan Harapan administration in 2018.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said at the Dewan Rakyat parliament meeting today that the programme had helped mould patriotism among Malaysians who had undergone training before it was disbanded under the previous Pakatan Harapan administration.
“As the programme has proven to shape patriotism among participating youths, the ministry will propose to the Cabinet for the programme to be implemented again,” said Ismail Sabri in response to Ahmad Maslan’s (BN-Pontian) suggestion that the National Service programme be revived.
The senior minister noted that since the National Service Act 1952 had placed PLKN under the Defence Ministry, it will draft the papers for the programme to be presented to the Cabinet for approval.
Bahawa #PLKN Program Latihan Khidmat Negara akan dihidupkan semula setelah dihentikan oleh kjaan dahulu
Tkasih banyak. PLKN amat baik utk bina generasi muda✅ pic.twitter.com/pC2nXKhytY
— Ahmad b Maslan (@ahmadmaslan) November 24, 2020
Before the programme was abolished, PLKN received heavy criticism after a number of trainees died while undergoing service.
Since it first started in December 2003 under the Barisan National government, a total of 23 deaths at camps nationwide were reported according to a Malay Mail article in 2013.
The main reasons for the deaths are drowning and health issues like a viral infection. In 2012, a trainee died of ‘rat fever’ caused by exposure to the Leptospira bacteria, which can be found in fresh water contaminated by animal urine.
Apart from that, alleged instances of sexual assault, rape and fights have also taken place at camps, in addition to an incident of infant death when a trainee gave birth in a camp toilet and the baby died upon arrival at the hospital.